A Texas grand jury found Antonio Armstrong Jr. guilty Wednesday August 16, of killing his parents in 2016 when he was just a teenager.
Armstrong, 23, was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years for the shooting deaths of retired NFL linebacker Antonio Armstrong Sr. and Dawn Armstrong in the family’s southwest Houston home, local station KHOU reported.
Jurors deliberated for roughly 10-and-a-half hours before finding the victims’ son guilty of their murders in the third trial he has faced in the seven years since their deaths.
Two previous trials each ended in a hung jury and Armstrong, now a married father himself has been out of jail with an ankle monitor since bonding out in 2017.
The jurors came to a guilty verdict after hearing more than 40 hours of testimony from 31 witnesses over an 11-day span.
Armstrong showed no emotion while the verdict was read out loud, while his long-time partner and wife Kate Armstrong openly cried in the courtroom.
Armstrong, then 16, shot both his parents on July 29, 2016, as they were asleep in their bed and placed a pillow over each of their heads before calling 911 to report hearing gunshots, prosecutors alleged.
Dawn, who was shot twice in the head, was pronounced dead at the scene while Antonio Sr. was rushed to a hospital where he too died. Both were 42.
The killer reportedly left an ominous note on the kitchen counter along with the murder weapon, a .22-caliber pistol belonging to Antonio Sr. The note read: “I have been watching you for a long time. Come get me.”
Prosecutors said Armstrong had shot the same gun into a pillow and blanket, through the floor of his bedroom, about a week before the killings and lit a fire outside his parents’ bedroom two days before.
They also said he searched how to craft a car bomb on his iPad and his story of seeing a masked intruder fleeing his home didn’t add up, the local station reported.
Armstrong told investigators he saw a 6-foot-tall man in a mask flee their home but prosecutors said he didn’t mention this until hours into an interrogation with police and the home’s security alarm system showed no records of anyone entering the home the night of the murders.
Armstrong had been scolded by his parents after he was kicked out of his high school, received failing grades, and smoked marijuana, according to the report.
The defense, however, tried to cast doubt on the prosecutor’s theory and said Armstrong’s older brother, Josh, was a more likely subject due to his severe mental health issues including paranoia and schizophrenia.
The defense said doctors reported that Josh believed he was both a god and the devil during stays at psychiatric hospitals following his parents’ deaths and once told a doctor that he “witnessed” his parents’ murders.
Prosecutors rebuked the defense’s argument and said that Josh developed mental health problems after the murders of his parents and likely because of their killings, citing his medical records and testimony from Josh’s girlfriend at the time.
Josh’s then-girlfriend testified that she and his cousin were both with him at his apartment around the corner from his parents’ home on the night they were killed.